WAR OR PEACE
RETALIATION OR CONFLICT RESOLUTION
By Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Hazrat Inayat Khan:
Suffering is our first call.
The horror, the terror, the heartless cruelty, the bloodshed, the devastation, of war! The despair, the folly, the violation of the sacredness of life: of the message of love, harmony and beauty! Watch those pictures on TV! People killing each other, young men with a future killed or maimed for life! Innocent men, women children, victims of hatred, atrocity blatantly committed in insensitive cruelty.
The destiny of humanity and indeed our planet is in the hands of a human phenomenon whose election could be subject to question, motivated by emotions of revenge by retaliation, having vowed revenge, sitting pretty at the White House can send (i) thousands, millions (we do not know if it escalates trillions of people world wide) to their death or being maimed or starving or losing may be the few possessions they had, separated from their loved ones, exiled in refugee camps, (ii) torture by hatred and to extol information by bringing the victim half conscious to denounce his friends (iii) recklessly wreaking wanton destructions on buildings, monuments, indiscriminatingly blowing up many invaluable archeological ruins meticulously preserved by so much care by archeologists, facilities, implements built at the cost of hard work and skills by of umpteen dedicated people, and squander millions of dollars invested in them and (iv) endanger our planet by polluting the environment with lethal gases
The dastardly, cruel, merciless Sept 11th assault on the towers was triggered off by Arab fury over Bush’s having given support to Mr Sharon’s policy who has been bulldozing Palestinian houses, expanding Israeli population, and colonizing Palestine. We need to reconnoiter the originating emotion that spurred the terrorist’s machiavellic cruel, merciless reaction, explore honestly what motivated their retaliation and our retaliation to their retaliation. We need to listen to the grievances behind the turmoil of outrage on all sides that spur our quarrelling, hating each other, killing each other, wreaking excruciating suffering upon our fellow beings.
But let us not thereby condone that cowardly, vicious act. It is helpful to
our understanding to see how a grievance can trigger off outrageous acts of
retribution which triggers off retaliation which sparks a power play with its
trail of misery, despair, devastation!
We respect all religions and all races This message fostered by Hazrat Inayat Khan that has meant so much to so many people in our day and age. We try to highlight their commonality. Therefore we cannot agree to manipulating the believers of different faiths for political objectives.
My sister Noor gave her life and was tortured to death to support the attack on the Nazis who were torturing the Jews and now the Israeli Government is torturing the Palestinians!
Hazrat Inayat Khan.
The whole of humanity is one single body, and all nations, communities, and races are the different organs. The happiness and well-being of each of them is the happiness and well-being of the whole body. If there is one organ of the body in pain the whole body has to sustain a share of its strain.
Or is there a deeper issue? (i) Prejudice against Islam often based upon fanatics who do not represent the real Islam and (ii) prejudice by Muslims against the West’s discarding of the values they uphold.
There is another deep core issue that erupted in the protests about globalization: the plea of the ‘have-nots’ against the affluent, opulent minority cumulating the world’s resources.
Are we letting ourselves being inveigled in the vicious circle of the primitive vendettas which never end? Retribution sparking retaliation and retaliation triggering off counter retaliation and so on indefinitely in infinite regress?
Mr Bush could do with a course in the modern sophisticated art of conflict-resolution.
Who are we contriving to protect against Iraq by disarming it of its weapons of mass destruction For what reason this unnecessary massacre and devastation , when the solution is at hand (do you mean to say???): no more territorial expansion. Respect for the neighbor’s territory. This is irrefutable, inferential deductable, congruous logic, the recognition by the Government of Israel of the legitimacy of the the sovereign state of Palestine, like any other United Nations states. How could one fail to see it? It is the core issue.
Do you believe that it is by compassion for the Iraqi people, to redeem them from the oppression of that monstrous tyrant who has used in the past weapons of mass destruction (which have at present as yet not been found) not only against his neighbors, but his own minorities and has drained his people, lamenting their poverty to build incredibly sumptuous palaces for himself and embezzle millions of his people’s taxes investing them in a Swiss bank his name? Or do you believe that the prime motivation of the war against Iraq is controlling rather than sharing the world’s prime source of energy. Could it be that for this purpose we are being exposed, us all, the whole world, if the conflict escalates to a global nuclear catastrophe?
When meditating last night a whole further perspective kept on revealing itself: the wisdom of the divine programming that overpasses our personal reasonings and initiatives.
When the unreality of life pushes against my heart,
its door opens to the reality.
These last words of Hazrat Inayat Khan as he was passing beyond tell us that it is deceptive to count upon our intellectual reason, our perfunctory assessement of situations that seem so ovious! When one’s heart is broken (because of the terrible sufferings wreaked upon some people) then an understanding emerges which makes sense of what our intellect could not grasp: the divine intention behind what seems totally incongruous to our mind.
The Muslim story of Moses and Khidr points out the intention in the cosmic code: Khidr who is considered to be privy to the divine intention explains to Moses why someone had to be killed - because he knew that he would have killed many, many people.
The present invidious situation calls upon our intelligence to grasp the 'reason behind the reason'.
A mystic does not look at reasons as everybody else does, because he sees
that the first reason that comes to his mind is only a cover over another reason
which is hidden behind it. ... He does not see things
through the reason he has learned from the world, but he begins to see the
reason of all reasons, the reason which is covered by ordinary reasoning. …The
mystic touches the reason of reason, the cause behind the cause, the purpose
beyond the purpose.
The same reality can look different according to the vantage point from which you look at it.
He does not disclose Himself to you except to the measure that your level of realization allows. ... One may see the Real behind the veil of things. ... Unveiling conveys knowledge of the Real in the things. Things are like curtains over the Real. When they are lifted, unveiling takes place. Then he will know God through God. The Real is not known in the things without the manifestation of the things and the lifting of their properties. The eyes of the common people fall upon the properties of the things but the eyes of those who have the opening of unveiling fall only upon the Real in the things. Among them is he who sees the Real in the things, and among them is he who sees the things while the Real is within them. Between these two there is a difference. When opening takes place, the eye of the first falls upon the Real and he see Him in the things, but the eye of the second falls upon the things, and then he sees the Real within them because of the existence of the opening. If you witness creation, you will not see the Real and if you witness the Real, you will not see creation. So you will never see both the Real and creation at the same time: you will witness this in that and that in this, since the one is a wrapper and the other enwrapped. ... When that veil is lifted disclosure takes place. That veil may become transparent.
What we may consider to be our or another’s initiatives or decisions may aver itself to be just the way that the universe sparks these decisions to implement its concern about the state of the totality of the universe. To ensure the divine gift of freedom, humanity is furnished with a program that triggers off overriding that which suppresses its freedom: dictatorship.
Unfortunately the heroes without a personal agenda who plot to destroy a dictator who is torturing fellow beings are generally caught by the powers that be and themselves tortured (as in the case of my sister Noor and those who plotted against Stalin, Hitler and Cesesco and many others). Unfortunately both the quest for involvement and the search for freedom involve not only joy but suffering. Hazrat Inayat Khan pacifies us by saying:
Crucifixion alone is the source of resurrection. Immortality comes from
the annihilation of self. ... The grape, by turning into wine, lives;
a grape it would have vanished in time. Only,
by turning into wine, the grape loses its individuality, and yet not its
life. The selfsame grape lives as wine; and the longer it lives, the better
the wine becomes. For a Sufi, therefore, the true sacrament is the turning
of one's grape-like personality, which has a limited time to live, into wine;
that nothing of one's self may be lost, but, on the contrary, it may be amplified,
even perfected. Immortality is not to be sought in
the hereafter; if it is ever gained it is gained in one's lifetime. ... Virtues
such as tolerance, forgiveness, mercy, or compassion rise of themselves in
the heart which is awakened to love; and infirmities such
as jealousy, hatred, and all manner of prejudice begin to spring up when
the shadow of love has fallen on the heart of the mortal. The former love
raises man to immortality, the latter turns the immortal soul into a mortal
The loss of every mortal thing is a gain in the immortal spheres; for it wakens the heart which is asleep both in the pursuit and the pleasures of the gain - under the mantle of every loss a greater gain.
In the peace covenants following world war II, Churchill respected the freedom of the German people.
When no weapons of mass destruction were found in Irak, Bush’ tactics shifted into purporting to liberate the Iraqi people. If it is to control the petrol supply it is at the cost of that very freedom of the Iraqi people claimed to be the motivation
In contrast with the case of Churchill, someone motivated by something to
gain by overcoming the dictator confronts the dictator by force (at the cost
of other people’s lives) opening Pandora’s box unleashing pandemonium,
anarchy. In this case, that very person himself or his cohorts torture their
enemies while their justification is that they are obstructing the monstrous
cruelty of the despot whom they are attacking – wreaking the same cruelty
as a retribution. Gandhi said: “the end does not justify the means”.
In the present crisis, in our dismay at a disturbed, faltering world teetering at the edge of disaster (or is it being afflicted by exceedingly pernicious and hazardous birth pangs announcing a new world?) as we quiver at the threat of wreaking further unimaginable escalating havoc upon our erstwhile beautiful planet and killing or causing excruciating pain upon millions, perhaps billions, of innocent people, our spiritual values are at stake.
We are all emotionally shocked and outraged by the incredible cruelty, the horror. In fact we are a wounded human family. The present crisis demonstrate the degree to which resentment and hatred can lead towards monstrous acts, especially if they are sustained by a faulty understanding of one’s religion. There is misunderstanding, misassessment, miscommunication.
Umpteen numbers of lives have been forsaken in past wars motivated by retribution when they could have been spared by a more civilized sense of honor. Moreover it rebounds upon the avenger.
How can we deal with the outrage and suffering?
Is there anything that we can do? What can we do?
In this conundrum, we have an impelling need to communicate with each other our quandaries, open our hearts, admit our uncertainty as to which is the appropriate action to deal with the ignominious challenge to the world in which we have been accustomed to live, admit that we ourselves are not immune from perhaps unavowed emotions of hate, intolerance, discrimination, or a partisan spirit understandably inspired by loyalty. In this we are tested in exactly the challenge that determines the decisions not only of those responsible for the conduct of situations that affect our lives, our security, our welfare, but of those operating behind the scenes disrupting the world order to give vent to their grievances and resentment.
The tidal wave of resentment that has surfaced in our troubled days jeopardizing the fruit of the toil of dedicated human endeavor and skill, disrupting our society; the damage to our lovely Planet by disregard for its sacredness and the despoiling of cherished values that bespeaks of decadence; these shake us out of our smug complacency and challenge us into exploring the core issues at the social scale and in ourselves.
In our present situation our pain has been enhanced tremendously and it has forced us to get in touch with ourselves more than ever before, uncovering covert emotions that we do not like to own.
Each little contribution on our part (however small) has its part to play in the overall tidal wave of sensitivity to the sufferings of people and, to be consistent: focus on the cause that sparks violence. It starts at the personal scale.
Perhaps the best way to understand and to participate in the total happening, each in our own little way, is to look at it at the personal scale. One can say this challenge invites us to look within ourselves and discover hidden emotions. It is not always easy to reconnoiter them. They hide. It requires an act of truth, of sincerity, to really have enough faith in truth to be able to face them.
War, violence, cruelty, with all its trail of misery, starts in each one of us, with our little human problems (our storms in our teacups). And altogether it escalates into terrible problems, even mass murder.
We are tested as to whether to retaliate for the atrocious cruelty to people going about their daily work. This would be slipping into primitive feuds, vendettas, a time when it was customary that an insult could only be atoned for by revenge to indemnify one’s honor.
Hazrat Inayat Khan:
A person has a natural tendency that if he is insulted, he thinks that the proper way of answering is to insult the other person still more. Yet he gets a momentary satisfaction to have given a good answer. ... A fire thus starts in that mind that had been peaceful and by reacting it too participates in this fire which will burn oneself. It is giving fuel to the fire that rises for destruction and causes further destruction... By giving way to disharmony, one causes disharmony to multiply.
Thus, spurred by our wounded emotion, we tend to react out of anger with bravado rather than act in a concentrated way to control the situation.
Let us recall an incident in the life of Hazrat Ali who released an enemy who spat at his face. Whereupon the enemy asked him why he did not kill him. Hazrat Ali said: “I did not wish to react in anger.” It is said that on the hilt of Prophet Mohammed’s sword were the words: Forgive him who wrongs you; join him who cuts you off; do good to him who does evil to you, and speak the truth although it may be against yourself.
Christ’s teaching “resist not evil” is a hint not to participate in and be guilty of the same evil.
The whole of Buddhism started with Buddha’s search for an end to suffering by compassion.
Are we soul- searching about the degradation of cherished moral values, safeguarded by tradition? The challenge draws our attention more than ever to whatever we can do (albeit how limited the outreach of each one of us is) to value and share with our friends, distraught as we are, the importance of “the awakening of conscience.” Here lies the crux of what sparked the crisis: it urges us to deal with that very originating emotion. We cannot extricate ourselves from the plight of our fellow beings in a time of strife.
If one entertains values such as love, harmony, beauty, respect for the dignity of one’s fellow beings, and kindness, then discovering the degree to which the emotions of hate and the insensitive disregard of suffering erupt mercilessly, unscrupulously, when threatened or frightened - even amongst people who normally would function according to normal standards of appropriate behavior - is so distressing! Never has the Message of the awakening of conscience been so urgently relevant! If we try to reconnoiter what are the emotional motives behind the present crisis, more than ever, it is clear that the hatred that triggered off this mutual violence at a massive scale is of the same nature as our resentment in our personal problems and hence the importance of Christ’s message, “forgive those who offend us…they do not know what they do,” beckons upon us more relevantly than ever. And it is this message that resonates implicitly in Hazrat Inayat Khan’s message
There is`a saying: 'To understand all is to forgive all', for it is the sign of the noble spirit to comprehend all things, to assimilate all things and therefore to tolerate and forgive all things. For everyone says or does or thinks only according to his own particular evolution, and he cannot do better. One cannot arrive at true nobility of spirit if one is not prepared to forgive imperfect human nature. And as one is ready to forget the faults of children, so the wise are ready to forgive the faults of men.
Resentment is an inherited, primitive survival instinct written into our psychological defense system, but in the course of evolution it needs to be transmuted into unconditional love.
How do we deal with resentment for people who are standing in the way of our doing what is our vital need, possibly our highest call in life?
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Life is difficult for the fine person, for he cannot give back what he receives in the way of hurt, and he can feel it more than the average person. And there is only one safety from all these blows that might destroy the heart altogether: it is to learn how to tolerate, to learn how to forgive.
A Sufi tries to keep harmony in his surroundings, the harmony which demands many sacrifices. It makes one endure what one is not willing to endure, it makes one overlook what one is not inclined to overlook, it makes one tolerate what one is not accustomed to tolerate, and it makes one forgive and forget what one would never have forgotten if it were not for the sake of harmony. But at whatever cost harmony is attained, it is a good bargain. For harmony is the secret of happiness
There are ways to look at our resentment. Imagine a knock at the door in the middle of the night. One peers out: Christ is knocking at the door! This great, cosmic being comes into the room and says: “I ask you to forgive. Do you know that all the misery in the world starts as resentment? Then he has left. It is not the same as trying to force oneself to forgive. If Christ asks one to forgive, one can. It makes all the difference. The transpersonal and cosmic dimensions need to be included in our being, inherent, powerful, transforming factors.
To help us in our relationship with people we resent: consider they have a faulty assessment of us. People misjudge one, abuse one, and make one feel bad that one is abused, all unconsciously. We encounter these conditions personally, and globally when they escalate into group emotions: being unreasonable, uncompromising, not wanting to discuss things,
Ask yourself: Have you never done anything that has caused pain to another person? Can we see from their point of view and see how they suffer? Could I have spared that person that pain? We are tested in our conscience for what we are doing to other people even by our emotions. People suffer from our emotions. If we don’t like that person, that person feels it. Maybe we are called upon to open up to people who are causing us pain.
Hazrat Inayat Khan
When we forgive, the others forgive us
How do we convince those standing in the way of our need that they are misguided about us? Was Christ able to convince those torturing him they were misguided? No. But he was able to forgive. Can we turn the tables on our foe; feeling sorry for him/her being misguided and allowing bestial emotions to crop up? In her work with chimpanzees Jane Goodall reports that they are capable of the most loving acts, of compassion, humor and even a sense of awe. But those very chimps are also capable of the most monstrous acts of hatred and violence and cruelty.
Our sense of self-esteem, self-validation, is so precarious. Recognizing our defects de-validates our self-esteem even more. We are called upon to uncover those unconscious emotions. Only one power will help us to overcome or offset those emotions. That is love. That is the message of Christ. We are challenged out of our complacency and insensitivity. It is disarming:
Hazrat Inayat Khan:
Love is the strongest weapon in the world that will overcome obstacles.
The most difficult thing in the world is to love a person that is difficult to love, that is standing in the way, but at the same time not allowing them to hurt you or, especially, other people.
We need to listen to the grievances behind the turmoil of outrage on all sides that spur our quarrelling, hating each other, killing each other, wreaking excruciating suffering upon our fellow beings.
We are offered the opportunity to make our world a paradise by building a wonderful world of lovely people. And it just takes a few people to create hell on earth not just for themselves, but others (the concentration camps) and for all of us.
If one entertains values such as love, harmony, beauty, respect for the dignity of one’s fellow beings, and kindness, then discovering the degree to which the emotions of hate and the insensitive disregard of suffering erupt mercilessly, unscrupulously, when threatened or frightened - even amongst people who normally would function according to normal standards of appropriate behavior - is so distressing! Never has the Message of the awakening of conscience been so urgently relevant!
Religion is intended as the custodian of the sacredness of our paramount values.